Fear in Writing: PleaseRobMe.com and Oversharing

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

PleaseRobMe.com and Oversharing

"Buying Jimmy Choos at Bergdorff's right now!" she tweets  from her Blackberry.  The words pop up on hundreds of computer screens around the world, but only one person smiles with sinister delight.  This is his moment.

He already has his bag packed.  Lock-picking set.  Alarm code deactivator--$29.99 online.  Snacks (he would keep up with her status via Twitter, but she could be gone an hour or all day--his girl is the unpredictable sort).  Silk scarf.

He checks the Twitter page one more time, then gets out of his car.  Fumbling with his keys, he nervously locks his car door.  This is it, his mind screams.  I almost have her!


He spins so fast his keys tumble to the pavement.  Just a jogger.  "Morning," he manages.  He sounded almost normal.  Did he appear normal?  Fleece pullover, jeans, dark runners, faux glasses that everyone would remember.  The jogger is already a block away.

His Blackberry buzzes in his pocket as he hurries toward her house. 

She has tweeted again.  "Best sale.  Jealous people on the train!  Heading home. Shopaholic movie awaits."

"Shit," he mumbles, and picks up the pace.  Thirty minutes on the train, then maybe five in the car before she's home.  He has to be ready.  He has to be waiting with the scarf and ready to take her for his own!  And he had wanted time to explore...Damn Twitter.

But without it he'd never know where she was at all times, so he could kill her.
This morning's story was inspired by an article my husband read to me from his Economist magazine.  Entitled 'Follow me,' the gist is that people use sites like Twitter (but not just Twitter) to share their location with the world, and therefore put themselves at great risk.  In fact, a big part of the article was a website called Pleaserobeme.com, which gathers Twitter feeds people put out there advertising they are away from home, publishes them on the site and sends them to the person in question.

Have you fallen prey to this trend?  I have published on here when I was traveling but, though I haven't said it, there has always been someone still at home (my husband--we never get to travel together!).  I don't carry any sort of device with me that allows me to tweet from stores or other places, so I can't tell you where I am throughout the day.  I have thought about getting one, but maybe this new information is a reason not to do so--though I'd like to think I would be a bit smarter with it.

Though it is a scary idea that there are people out there trolling the social networking sites, I will admit, my first thought upon hearing this article was, Great fodder for a mystery story!

What do you think?  We are obviously a group mired in the depths of social networking.  Are you concerned about oversharing?

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  1. That is a scary thought! I almost never say where I am either, although 'on way to speaking engagement' or something and as you said, someone is always home while I'm gone.

  2. Honestly, though, before this article, I hadn't thought of it in terms of danger. It made common sense not to advertise my whereabouts at all times. Plus, who really cares where I am? I use Twitter for (what I think are) interesting articles and updates on writing. This is a scary idea--social networking as killer bait.

  3. It is a scary thought, and you don't ever really think about it until you've either done it or heard a friend oversharing. My sister had shared when she was out of town on fb and during that week someone had broken into her apartment, it's scary to think but you shouldn't share so much personal information. I never state the store I'm going to, and I have the location blocked on my twitter. Sometimes it's just to easy for people to steal and kill people, really scary!!

  4. "Think before you tweet."

    It's sort of like telling a dog to think before they dig. Sadly enough, unless MTV tells them too, most people, simply won't.

  5. It's a risk that comes with the territory, yes. SN is a great tool for "unknowns" to GET known, but there is the criminal element in any field, so best to watch what you put out there. I was visiting one author/blogger who was posting her up coming novel chapter by chapter - without it even being copywritten yet! I advised her of the dangers (and it was a good book, too) and she stopped, even deleting the archived posts.

    The Old Silly

  6. As we advance with technology we sometimes forget that sharing everything is not always a good idea. The story would make for a great book.

  7. Jen- I hadn't met anyone with a personal story about it. It's good to hear the caution from a real person! Thanks for sharing.

    Univarn- LOL, but true.

    Marvin- Not to mention the fact that she's sharing everything and leaving nothing to surprise! Why buy what they can read for free? This has been the downfall of many a newspaper.

    We are all in danger of sharing too much, for many reasons. Danger is just one of them. Caution, my friends, caution.

  8. Mason- That was my first thought when Russ read the article to me. At night, he reads The Economist and I read my latest mystery/thriller/whatever. Sometimes, his read is more dangerous and deadly! (Well, a lot of it does stem from Wall Street... :P )

  9. Probably something everyone needs to worry about, not just women.

  10. Wow. That's spooky. But it does make a great plot line...

  11. Alex- Most definitely. I did not mean to imply it was just for women. I suppose one would assume rape would be a major problem, and I made a woman the victim of my story. But I think robbery is probably the most common crime of such predators, and those victims span both sexes. Good point, Alex.

    Jemi- I know, right? Not something you can set in Victorian London, though, I'm afraid. I wonder what the Steampunk equivalent would be...Hmmm...This could be fun to figure out!

  12. That is terrifying. Utterly.


    I'm jsut a bit freaked out. Is there a smiley for eyes that bug out???

    I'll take this one as a solid lesson. No more tweeting my whereabouts. EVER. Yikes.

    Thanks for the post!

  13. That is totally creepy! Yet another reason for me to steer clear of twitter. I don't even like to have my name on the internet, but it is hard to avoid.

  14. Rose- I know. It is hard to avoid, especially when we choose to partake in sites like blogger and facebook. But as long as we are smart...We can only hope for the best!


  16. Well, I don't tweet or face or any of those things, but boy howdy that was a lesson for all of us. And I love your little story at the beginning. Creepy.

  17. I just can't get into the Twitter universe. I don't have time! But I like blogging- I've met some great people!

  18. Anne- Thanks, and yes, it is. Even on blogger we need to watch out.

    Stephanie- I don't do a lot on Twitter, but I have my blog automatically feed to it. I check it occasionally and have found some cool links there. It is pretty popular and a great way to get your book known!

  19. I just returned from several days out of town. :)

    I trust my bloggy friends, just not the millions of other people out there in cyberspace!


  20. Great Post!

    I absolutely refuse to Twitter, Facebook, I deleted my old Myspace account... I just think that too much is too much. I do my blog to network with writers, and I do Goodreads to keep track of my reading and reviews, but other than that, the rest is unnecessary. It takes too much time away from family/writing/reading in the sunshine. I don't want to be so dependent on technology. (And yes, it can be dangerous!)
    When I go out of town, I schedule blog posts so no one notices I'm gone. ;)

  21. Thanks for the post--the story was awesome but horribly scary; see, I have recently had to drop an e-mail account I have had for YEARS and set high privacy standards on my blog profile--a very creepy ex has started a stalking campaign and perhaps not coincidentally, my bank account was hacked last month.

    As a writer, I can see the value of social networking. As a single woman, the total lack of privacy frightens me. I refuse to cower at home in the dark and yet the fear is not mere paranoia--next time it may be an attack on my physical person, not my bank account or my possessions.

    It's also an interesting social phenomenon that people will tweet/facebook/network the most minute details of their daily lives, but throw total hissy fits if the government wants to set up electronic records transmission of their medical charts or have people show picture ID to vote or register as an illegal alien because "it invades my privacy". Anybody else see irony in that?

  22. Kristin- You might be one extreme, but definitely great precautions to take.

    Linda- I am sorry for your experience, but it sounds like you are doing some great things with technology to protect yourself. It is especially scary for women, you are right. My sister was stalked for years by an anonymous caller. He never (that we know of) made physical contact, but the possibility was always there. You're last paragraph is the most interesting--we are hypocrites!